Back Country, Here We Come ...

There’s something special about the back country of the Canadian Rocky Mountains. Pristine wilderness, nature at it’s finest and a majestic wall of mountains in every direction. Seeing this country from the back of a horse in my opinion, is the upper end of spectacular.

I was blessed and privileged to have the opportunity to be one of the Trail Riders of the Canadian Rockies host performers [ Emcee ] for ‘ Ride # 1 ‘ 2018. This entailed a variety of duties ranging from the morning wakeup tent call to performing around the campfire each night, with a plethora of other items and riding the trail with the guests daily.
 The Trail Riders of the Canadian Rockies is a non profit group that has carried on the tradition of guiding guests through this beautiful part of the world on horseback since 1923. A group of 14 avid riders were camping and fishing along the Kootenay River, together, around the campfire discussed the potential of a riding club. The TRCR hasn’t missed a year since!  Today, people from all over the world continue to join the Trail Riders each summer. { Read more on the history of the TRCR on their website } I had the honour of hosting a wonderful group of 14 folks from Alabama, along with a long time return guest [ 16 consecutive yrs ] from Edmonton. I was completely thrilled to spend the week with these fabulous people. Fun & interesting folks,  everyone could handle horses [ some of the gals were seasoned, long time horse women ]. A big shout out to - John Y, John T, Sarah H, Karen M, Lee M, Tena P, Wynn P, Debbie H, Pat J , Wendy J, Harriet G, Ralph H, Erla Mc, Bucky Mc, and Tommy N. 

Each day was spent riding the trails of the Rockies in the Castle National Park region just north of Waterton Park, Alberta. We had a very cool base camp that was outfitted with tent and teepee accommodations. The camp was close to Mill Creek which was handy as we did NOT have running water .... well I guess there was running water ... depending how fast you carry the pails from the creek to the camp .... NO power, and you really notice this, as the mountain nights are dark and chilly. Knowing this ahead of time, everyone packed the necessary flashlights, extra batteries, as well the many extra layers and long johns that you need to stay warm in the night. I had brought a toque along for sleeping and had to wear it a couple of times. Some of the Alabama guests also brought their winter hats which they call “ toboggans “ ..... I had to chuckle, as we have a completely different meaning for the word “ toboggan “ ... Equally funny to them is our knitted hat reference … a “ toque “ ... whaaaaat??? :)

The Blue Ridge Outfitters are a group from the Cardston, Alberta area, supplying us with some great mountain horses, guides, and experienced camp cooks. Everyone seemed to be teamed up with a horse that they found comfortable and compatible to their riding skills. I loved my horse, a trusty bay named Copy Cat. He was a trooper and never let me down ... surefooted, peppy and was eager to hit the trail everyday. A big thanks to the wranglers, Dee, Shelby, Simone and Kyle. Equally great were the cooks that never disappointed from morning till dusk. It’s not an easy job to consistently cook delicious meals, serve 4 course dinners, and bake birthday cakes with NO electricity..... However, Shannon and Sheri mastered all the meals with dutch oven expertise. Well done ladies !!!

Speaking of birthdays,  we had 2 during our 6 day excursion, one in which we had a heads up before we left for the wilderness, good thing, as it was easy to bring a few of those birthday party items in my duffel bag. Mid week we celebrated the birthday of Sarah H., . . .a fun dinner party, champagne, games around the campfire followed by live music from yours truly.  Pat J. also celebrated a birthday which fell on the last day of our ride. The cooks were able to create a yummy upside down fruit dutch oven birthday cake and we had a chance to toast Pat on our last night in camp.

Each day we rode in a different direction of the camp, seeing new sights and enjoying spectacular views.  We had incredible weather with just a few bouts of rain which barely amounted to being slicker worthy. I enjoyed being out with the riders almost everyday, however, I missed the Castle Mountain ride as I stayed back to wrap up final day details. The riders that went out told me that it was the best day, challenging, exciting, and making it to the top was worth the narrow trails with steep and sliding shale. ‘ Yikes ‘ ... I applaud the brave riders that went all the way. Overall, throughout the week some of the comments I'd heard from the guests were, “ This is so incredible “, I’m so glad we decided to do this “, I think we need to come back “, “ What a fun and relaxing trip “, “ We love Canada “ .... and many more positive words.

Every night after dinner,  the guests joined me in the entertainment tent dubbed ‘ the doughnut ‘ , a round tent with a canvas roof, 36 feet diameter, with walls that are 5 feet high supported by posts set at about a 45° angle and supported by 18 foot poles. It stops short leaving a six-foot hole in the roof,  (hence the term “doughnut.”).  I had a blast being on stage in the “ doughnut “ ... sharing many of my original songs, fun stories, and having the guests sing along. There were some great singers in the bunch … shout out to Lee M.

The final night in camp, traditionally is what they call ‘ skit night ‘ which is a collaboration of guest participation in any way shape or form ... We were lucky to have some interesting participants, including ~ cowboy poetry [ Ralph ],  cowboy points to ponder [ John Y. ], singing [ Lee ],  dancing/singing [ Wendy & Sarah ],  singing [ Shannon & Sheri ],  & guitar picking [ Kyle ].  TRCR takes great pride in honouring their guests with a membership pin and certificate, as once you complete the ride, you are now an official member of the group. Also awarded on the last night in camp is the prestigious Golden Horseshoe Award. This award is given to the rider that most exemplifies congeniality, true grit and all around cowboy/cowgirl spirit. We gave the award to the very deserving Harriet G, with an honourable mention going out to Bucky Mc.

If you ever have the urge to take in a unique vacation experience such as this one,  I would highly recommend checking out the TRCR website and consider booking a horseback holiday!! I felt very privileged to be a part of the TRCR 2018, truly enjoyed my group of people and the wonderful experience  of being their host and entertainer.  Thanks to all and Happy Trails. . . .


Have a look at the photos attached..... enjoy.

Trail Riders of the Canadian Rockies Website

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